A devoted Christian offers the fruits of faith and daily practice in a book intended to serve as a constant reminder of the...


The Inside of the Cup


A devotional by pastor and businessman Monge, author of another devotional and a spiritual autobiography.

Monge (Dancing with God, 2012, etc.) suffers from crippling clinical depression. As an expression of his faith, which has given him the strength to live, he has penned a devotional based on the Gospel of Mark, his favorite biblical book. Monge’s work follows a familiar pattern established in the 15th century by Thomas à Kempis, who wrote The Imitation of Christ, the most famous Christian book of inspirational commentary. Like Kempis’ book, the author’s devotional presents short chapters that summarize an abbreviated reading from the Bible followed by an opportunity for reflection and prayer. The author instructs his readers to consider each chapter after reading relevant sections of the Bible. Written in a simple, straightforward way, Monge’s book often details incidents from his own life to illuminate the chapters’ messages. The author has been studying Mark since 1965, and he brings a wealth of biblical scholarship to his enterprise. The other Gospels, the author contends, were all based on Mark, which served as a “primary source, plus there was another group of sayings called the Quelle, which in German means ‘source.’” Monge often offers historical or linguistic asides that contribute to his discussion. The author’s struggle with the demons of depression provides the emotional center for this devotional work, and he styles himself as a perseverant believer. He contemplated suicide, but his faith, despite the turmoil of his personal life, has brought him through. He writes that Jesus sat beside him “in Hell” and helped him through those dark times. Neither maudlin nor self-indulgent, the chapters reveal the author as a humble, devoted Christian practitioner who exhorts readers to realize their faith. “It is daily contact with God…,” Monge writes, “which causes the gradual transformation into a faith that is real.”

A devoted Christian offers the fruits of faith and daily practice in a book intended to serve as a constant reminder of the presence of Jesus in everyday life.

Pub Date: May 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482321494

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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